'Black Panther' director treats local students to private screening

- 300 students at Richmond's Caliber Beta Academy were in for a special treat this week. The students went from the classroom to a field trip they'll never forget like none other.  A chance to see their dreams, hopes, and discussions on the big screen.  Watching the blockbuster hit Black Panther.  

"It's imperative that these kids see they can go from a zero up to the top with one leaping bound. They need to see things like that," says Rodney Alamo Brown with Caliber Beta Academy.   

"We can show them what's truly possible and powerful and intelligent and beautiful they actually are. My hope is that they see it reflected back and start to believe us," says Caliber Beta Academy Principal Ashlee Gutierrez.   

The trip was sponsored by none other than the movie's director and Richmond resident Ryan Coogler.  Who stopped by for a guest appearance. 

"He's from the Bay Area and it's cool to see somebody from our city do something that big," says 8th Grader Mario Lopez.  

"I'm just so proud and so honored that we can take our students to experience this event and speak to Ryan Coogler and show them representations of themselves in such a powerful and beautiful way," says Gutierrez.  

Coogler paid for seven buses to take the students from school to Oakland or Wakanda for the day. Coogler rented out a theater at Grand Lake.  

Black Panther is the highest-grossing superhero film in the U.S bringing in more than $630 million stateside.  An important feat for a man with roots in the East Bay. 

"Even though he grew up in an area that people think is not positive. He explored his dreams and lived," says 8th Grader Asia Fontenot.  

"It's always important to those who are doing wonderful things. Not only in movies or television or sports and things of that magnitude but you always want to link the community back to the community and let the kids see what they could possibly be," says Brown.  

Before the film, Coogler sat with the students and also took questions.

"I want to understand what motivated him to make the movie and because it's important to the black community," says 8th Grader Idrishia Curnl.

Coogler explained the reason he made the movie is because of his love of comics and his interests in Africa. He got the chance to break stereotypes of Africans and African American's in the most positive light. 

"In all the other movies all the girls are weak and in Black Panther, the girls are really strong," says 6th Grader Franky Garcia.  

"We're not backwards. We're not stupid. We're not all the derogatory connotations that has been propagated upon us historically to present," says Co-Founder Black Panther Party Bobby Seale 

"They just are somebody there.. probably just a person playing basketball or drug dealer or just there to make somebody laugh or a comedian you know. But this time he empowers the people in the movie," says 6th Grader Jorge Ovando.  

Many students we spoke with say they enjoyed the film and hope Hollywood takes notice. Because they want to see more films like this one in the future.  

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